Immediately the whispers begin discussing the authenticity. This is before the resurrection of late 19th century Parisian bohemia, before the names Toulouse-Lautrec, Wilde and Verlaine spill from the lips. This is before tales of van Gogh’s severed ear and Hemingway’s consumption prior to the running of the bulls. This is before the bottle is placed above their glass and the chlorophyll green runs over their sugar cube. The whispered discussion breaks down when it is confirmed, yes, it is real absinthe.
The banished mistress of bohemia, “the Devil, made liquid,” as referred to by one 19th century poet, the infamous spirit that captured a generation’s imagination and a government’s hysteria, has resurged onto bar menus from coast to coast.
With a cult revival of interest in the early 1990’s, the spirit slowly found its way into the mainstream. Set forth in Europe, numerous restrictions were reformed by the European Union granting a larger accessibility of the spirit.
Late last year absinthe was re-introduced to the U.S. market. Banned since 1915, producers and mixologists were eager to bring the spirit back to imbibers’ palates.
The anis-flavored spirit, often times with hints of coriander, fennel, pepper and mint, was granted legal status after studies concluded the supposed effects of thujone were negligible in standards set by FDA regulations. Thujone, which is attributed to the harmful effects of the spirit, is a chemical found in wormwood, an herb used to make absinthe. The chemical is also prevalent in plants such as juniper and sage.
As of now there are three highly regulated Absinthe products allowed for sale within the U.S. boarders, they include:
Lucid, classified as an Absinthe Superieure, is produced in France, with an ALC 65% by Vol., and is characterized as a blend of green anise and sweet fennel.
Kubler Absinthe, classified as an Absinthe Superiere, is produced in Switzerland, the birthplace of absinthe and carries an ALC 53% by Vol.
St. George Absinthe, produced in California, with an ALC 60% by Vol., is the first legally made U.S. absinthe since 1912.
The Alcohol Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau’s passing of the substance has allowed restaurants and bars to experiment like never in the past, with the infusion new techniques and ingredients. However, as discussed in an article last month in SFGate, the overwhelming popularity of the spirit might be time sensitive. Jeff Holinger, a manager at the, Absinthe Brasserie and Bar in San Francisco, concedes, “There is a lot of money to be made with the spirit…but you better do it in the next couple of years.”
And many restaurants and bars are cashing in. What would have Picasso painted at the witness of the numerous vibrant cocktails bartenders are creating and re-creating with the estranged “Green Fairy”?
Here are a few that have become popular with a new generation of absinthe drinkers:
Sacred Heart, attributed to Absinthe Brasserie and Bar, San Francisco, CA, it’s a blend of Lucid Absinthe, Pomegranate Tequila, limoncello, and lemon juice.
Absinthe Mojito, attributed to Suba, New York, NY, it’s a traditional preparation of absinthe over crushed mint, cane sugar and lime.
Corpse Reviver No. 2, attributed to PDT, New York, NY, it’s described as a, “surprisingly sweet drink with Plymouth gin, fresh lemon juice, Lillet Blanc, Cointreau and an absinthe rinse”.
Waverly Sazerac, attributed to The Waverly Inn, New York, NY, it’s a re-creation of the classic Sazerac cocktail, using Sazerac rye, absinthe, Peychaud’s bitters and a dash of lemon.
The Short Buzz will be a regular post here at the Daily Blender highlighting spirits.